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Posted on February 24, 2016
It can be hard enough to navigate everyday life – what with its family get-togethers, office parties, new restaurants and school field trips – while dealing with food allergies. But traveling, and especially traveling internationally, with allergies? That’s another story altogether. To keep you safe, healthy and having fun while on your summer adventures, here are some helpful tips for traveling with food allergies:
Before you book a flight, do some research. You’ll find that some airlines are more accommodating than others when it comes to allergies – and it pays to ask some important questions: Do they serve snacks with ingredients that you’re allergic to? Will they let you board the plane early, or get a seat by yourself? Do they offer any sort of emergency medical assistance?
If possible, request a special meal that suits your needs (but be sure to give them at least 24 hours in advance) and know that some airlines may even go so far as to request that the passengers in your immediate vicinity refrain from eating things that you are allergic to.
By the same token, shop around for hotels with your allergies in mind. In particular, look at the neighborhood and try to book accommodations near a grocery store so that you can shop for ingredients and have more control over what you eat.
Yes, you will want to pack your own allergy-friendly snacks while traveling – but also be sure to pack any necessary (or even potentially unnecessary) medications, and pack them well. Do not put your medications in your checked luggage, as checked luggage can be exposed to extreme heat or cold that could spoil your medications and render them useless. Make sure everything is properly labeled, and that you are packing within TSA guidelines. If you are carrying more than 3.4 ounces of liquid medication, you will need to keep it separate and declare it to a TSA agent at the security line.
Of course, you don’t want to anticipate an emergency situation – but having a plan in place just in case will at least make you feel better (and at most, save your life.) Before you go, make an appointment to talk to your doctor about the trip and walk through any potential concerns or dangers.
You may also want to look into a travel assistance membership, and perhaps carry a chef card (that you can hand to your server when you go out to eat) in the local language that explains what you are allergic to. (You should also do some research on the local cuisines, and learn how to say “I am allergic to ______” in the native tongue.) At the same time, do some hunting to see whether there may be a local doctor who specializes in allergies located near your hotel or destination, and make note of their contact information. When traveling to a foreign place with food allergies, it really is better to be safe than sorry.
For even more helpful advice and tips for traveling with food allergies, see this informative article by FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education.)